Members of Ursinus community gathered for the 3rd annual Celebration of Lights

The event showcased various voices from Ursinus, telling their stories about the meaning of celebration

Madison Rodak

Candle lighting and a hot chocolate bar awaited the Ursinus community as students and professors gathered to celebrate the 3rd annual Celebration of Lights in Bomberger Auditorium on Thursday, November 15th. The event showcased a plethora of voices from Ursinus telling their own stories about holidays, religion, and overall, the meaning of celebration and togetherness.

The event was coordinated by STAT (Students Today Alumni Tomorrow), a campus run organization with many goals, two of which are to increase student engagement at campus events and to heighten students’ overall school spirit. A member of STAT, Lizzy DeWitt, hosted the event and began the evening talking about the importance of inclusivity. DeWitt described the Celebration of Lights as an “event we can share as a community . . . to celebrate each other.”

Members of Hillel took the stage to tell the story of Hanukkah with their talk, “Hanukkah with Hillel.” Everything from menorahs, dreidels, and latkes were discussed and explained, as well as how the holiday has become a “big deal in our culture,” even though it has undergone many changes over time.

Members of ALMA (The Association of Latinos Moti- vated to Achieve) took part in two showcases. The first was a performance by sisters Zonia Rueda-Juarez ‘19 and Vikki Rueda-Juarez ‘21 of “Granito de Mostaza,” a song they explained as one sung for holy week and Christmas. The other performance was a recital by Kelsey Blake and Karen Herrera of the poem “Let Me Try Again” by Javier Zamora.

Faraha Rathod and Simra Mariam from the Muslim Student Association explored different aspects of the Muslim holiday Eid in their talk “Eid and Indian / South Asian Culture.” Rathod explained how Eid is celebrated more in the winter, and how it allows for families to get together. Mariam went on to say how Eid is celebrated two times a year and can be seen as “a time of festivity and family,” echoing Rathod’s sentiments. “Sweets and prepared food make each Eid memorable,” Mariam added.

Yota Hakkai, member of the Japan Club, presented “Lanterns in Japan,” an important celebration in Japanese culture. The celebration is specifically related to the Hiroshima Peace Park. Hakkai made a point that the lanterns like the ones at Hiroshima Peace Park have a way of “connecting people, from young to old.”

The showcase “Guzheng: The Melody of Tea-Picking” consisted of a performance by Southeast Asian Student Association member Linwei Jiang of the guzheng, a Chinese plucked string instrument. Jiang has had 15 years of experience with the guzheng and explained that the song performed was used to celebrate tea harvesting.

A talk about “Spiritual Music in Tunisia” was given by Haifa Ben Naji, a Fulbright Foreign Language Teaching Assistant currently at Ursinus. Ben Naji explained how “Muslim culture [is] really linked to art,” and this can been seen with the mystic gatherings that take place during holidays when music and dancing allow for people to show “inwardness and expression.” One specific holiday when mystic gatherings take place is Mawlid, which is the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad.

The showcases of the Celebration of Lights concluded with a performance by the B’Naturals of John Lennon’s song “Imagine.” The event wound down with closing remarks including those by Terrence Williams, Presidential Advisor for Inclusion and Equity and Dean of Students. Concluding the event, candles were lit, raised up, and extinguished together, showing a sense of togetherness not only in Bomberger Hall, but Ursinus as a whole.